Friends of the Supergrid and Desertec are understating the need for new technologies for a supergrid

I sent this note to Eddie O'Connor today, in response to his April 8 blog post on the UK Feed in Tariff. I like his thinking on that issue, but I think his supergrid advocacy has been trying to sweep a few inconvenient truths under the carpet, as you can see from the comment I posted to Eddie's blog today:

Thanks for the clarity of this post. You see the financial issues very clearly. I have concerns about your supergrid vision however. 

Through FOSG, you have been saying there are no technical reasons that a supergrid could not be built starting today. I do not think that is correct.and you saying that is actually slowing the approach of the day when a supergrid will be built. We need three things we don't have today to build a supergrid:

1) underground conductors that are capable of rapid repair, and can carry 30 GW;
2) HVDC circuit breakers capable of working on these lines;
3) voltage standardization

As you know Eddie, I have really out-of-the box ideas on 30 GW rapidly repairable underground conductors, elpipes (www.elpipe.com) which combine features of a pipeline, a train and a power line. More recently I invented a novel electromechanical HVDC circuit breaker (www.ballisticbreaker.com) which will be capable of protecting a 30 GW elpipe. In order for a supergrid to be built, we need such high capacity circuit breakers to be cheap enough to install hundreds of them for a European Supergrid. Low-loss DC circuit breakers that are also less expensive than ABB's approach to create a hybrid breaker based on power electronics will be needed, whether the supergrid is based on overhead lines, gas insulated lines (GIL) or elpipes. 

By saying that all  technical problems have been solved, you are suppressing vital research that can solve the last remaining technical problems (the ones I have been focusing on). I have presented my technologies to the world in my two PCT patent applications. I have found some backing for the medium voltage DC version of my Ballistic Breaker, but none so far for the HVDC application. So, I'll be able to build a growing company that will eventually be able to make my voice heard by Prime Ministers, as yours is heard today. But that is inefficient for our shared goal of having a viable supergrid in 50 years. I can deliver a workable elpipe in five years for $35 million, but the starting point for that research has been delayed by two years since I first brought my elpipe concept to you. For God's sake man, can you not see the importance of my idea? talk to me.

This is my latest attempt to reach out to Eddie O'Connor. I find it odd that he has never acknowledged any of my attempts to communicate with him. It is similarly odd that Eddie has never acknowledged the link of his supergrid vision back to Gragor Czisch; instead, in one of his speeches  he mentions that the idea "came out of Kassels University." That was Gregor; still a living breathing supergrid activist who you have never agreed to meet. And so too is it with me! Why Eddie? Are you more concerned with creating the Supergrid, or with being the "Father of the Supergrid?" Tease those drives apart; they are incompatible.

When FOSG was founded, I made this public plea for FOSG to work with Peter Meisen of Global Energy Network Institute (GENI) and with Gregor Czisch. Later on, I suggested a Eurasia-Africa supergrid, again suggesting that FOSG work with others and criticizing FOSG, Desertec and others for putting out misleading European Supergrid sketches, showing far fewer connections than would actually be needed with current transmission technology: Subsea cables have a maximum capacity of 2.2 GW, and are very expensive compared to overhead lines or elpipes, and are very difficult and expensive to repair. Overhead lines are strongly opposed politically. The sooner we begin prototype development on elpipes, the sooner we can have a supergrid. Will you help or hinder this, Eddie?

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